Up, up and away with Fujairah Aviation Academy

Academy has set its sights on becoming the first full-fledged aviation university in the country by 2016 to serve sector's burgeoning needs.

Captaib Vikram Surana from Fujairah Aviation Academy speaks at the Abu Dhabi Air Expo. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National.
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Fujairah Aviation Academy has set its sights on becoming the first full-fledged aviation university in the country by 2016 as it looks to serve the sector’s burgeoning needs.

The academy, founded in 1986 as a flight training organisation, aims to become an aviation hub in the region.

“Our final destination is to become an aeronautical university,” said Captain Vikram Surana, the head of aviation courses at Fujairah Aviation Academy. “We will be a hub for all sorts of aviation training. We expect the graduates of our academy to have a bachelor’s degree with them.

“We already have a lot of courses in our portfolio. What we are looking for is to have tie-ups with recognised universities, have multiple-degree programmes and get them accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education.”

The courses are already accredited by the General Civil Aviation Authority.

The academy is looking to offer diplomas, undergraduate and post-graduate studies, said Capt Surana.

Arabian Gulf carriers such as Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways are all in the midst of aggressive expansion. At the Dubai Airshow in November, the three airlines ordered 142 planes worth US$41.8 billion from the European plane maker Airbus.

Alpen Capital, an investment bank, warned in a recent study that the aggressive fleet expansion by GCC carriers would have to be met by an increasing demand for skilled labour.

“The UAE is a niche market. If you look at the aviation industry in general the UAE is booming, with the increasing number of orders that UAE airlines have placed. We see a big market in the UAE,” said Capt Surana. Currently the academy offers pilot training, engineering and International Air Transport Association (Iata) courses .

The courses take about two years and cost about Dh300,000 for pilot training and Dh100,000 for an engineering degree.

Apart from Emirati students, the college attracts students from Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, India, Bangladesh and even Europe because it is cheaper. And as part of their training, engineering students undergo a two-month training with Air Arabia, he said.

It is also planning to offer helicopter training and air traffic control courses.

Capt Surana said that the academy expects two Robinson R44 helicopters to be delivered in April. It is also expecting an air traffic control simulator, worth about Dh4million to be delivered in May.

The academy operates two types of simulators – the flight navigation performance trainer simulator, which offers training for smaller aircraft and a Multi-Crew Corporation (MCC) simulator for bigger planes.

“MCC [training] is about how the two pilots inside the cockpit interact with each other,” said Capt Surana. “The problem happens when two pilots inside the cockpit are unable to interact or if there’s an ego clash.”

The academy also aims to become a Type Rating Training Organisation – a certification of an airline pilot to fly a certain type of aircraft model. “When the student graduates he has a commercial licence but he can’t just jump on an Airbus A320 and fly. He needs to be trained on this specific airplane,” said Capt Surana.

The academy is planning to order two types of simulators for popular aircraft such as the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737 Next Generation. Each simulator costs about Dh10 million.

Fujairah Aviation is not alone in targeting the latent demand. Abu Dhabi Aviation, the Middle East’s largest commercial helicopter operator, plans to open the region’s first helicopter training centre in the capital next year.

The facility in Khalifa City will cover about 7,250 square metres and will have eight simulators and is expected to cost about Dh25 million.

Meanwhile, the engineering faculty at the UAE University yesterday launched an aerospace engineering programme, supported and funded by Mubadala Aersopace, Wam reported.

Mubadala had signed an agreement with the university in 2012 to train and develop students pursuing engineering courses.


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